My first Mother’s Day as a mum, without my mum

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Verity shares her thoughts on Mother’s Day this year – her first as a mother herself without her mum.

I have spent 13 years since my mum died becoming an expert at avoiding Mother’s Day, but this year I will celebrate it as a Mum for the first time and it all feels a bit weird! Navigating mother’s day started off a bit ropey, I had some challenging experiences until I honed my expertise at avoiding the aggressive advertising and effusive social media posts. I am still amazed at the lack of TV and media content aimed at those without mums.

We could all be far more inventive with our empathy if we put our minds to it. Most years I take myself off for a long walk somewhere beautiful and it has gradually become easier to manage. Mother’s day is a tough date for the motherless child and my advice would be to be selfish and do whatever you need to do and whatever feels right for you.

Navigating something new

I became a mum to a beautiful baby girl at the beginning of the first lockdown in March last year. I am a bit apprehensive about marking a day I have often hated but now want to be special at the same time. I am wondering what that will be like but I also know that experiencing grief means navigating some awkward situations and I know I can do it!

Since my mum died I spent much a lot of time wondering and worrying about what it would be like to become a mum and even whether it was something I should do, whether it would be something I could handle. I know from listening to podcasts and posts of others in the grief community that this is often something which comes up among those who have had parents die. I particularly worried about having a daughter because I thought it would bring up my grief more acutely but our amazing baby girl surprised us by arriving two weeks early and I haven’t given it another thought since.

Absolutely, having a baby has brought up additional feelings of missing my mum. I wish she was here to meet Sadie and I grieve for her that she missed becoming a grandmother. I miss being mothered at a time when I need that support. If you are worrying, my advice would be to try not to let your grief drive these major life choices, you deserve everything. Think of what you do have – that might be supportive friends, an amazing partner, great colleagues – all of this will build your support network, it takes a village!

Wonderful moments among the darkness

There have also been some wonderful moments. Whereas my mum died on the day the clocks went back, what I call the darkest day, my daughter was born on the day the clocks went forward, when we spring into new beginnings, and on my Nana’s (my mum’s mother’s) birthday. I take a lot of hope and encouragement from this lovely coincidence. I feel closer to my mum, I can imagine what she may have felt when she had children and I remember her nature and how she used to try and make us laugh at the first sign of any upset.

Whilst the lockdown has completely heightened the challenges of being a new mum, it also provided a distraction from my grief – we weren’t allowed visitors anyway, we couldn’t travel to family anyway, everyone was going through the same thing. It also reminded me that support is always there if you look for it, even in unexpected places. I am so lucky to have met a fantastic group of new mums during my pregnancy who have carried me through this time and I know my neighbours better than ever.

It’s ok if things don’t go to plan

I think I have developed a tendency to feel like I can’t celebrate things. A bonus of ‘celebrating’ Mother’s Day is that I don’t have to do anything. Everything is in my partner’s hands until my daughter is old enough and low key is guaranteed due to current restrictions. I do want it to be special but it’s also okay if it doesn’t go quite to plan. I want to have as many special experiences with my daughter as we are lucky enough to be given.

Wishing everyone support and kindness this Mother’s Day.

Verity Smith
@verity_thegriefaccount (Instagram)